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Finding Paleoclimate Data Just Got Easier

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Finding the paleoclimate data you need among the thousands of studies we make available online just got easier. With our new web service, you can search for data across a wide range of proxy types and climate reconstructions. And, the new service integrates all of the capabilities of our previous search mechanisms.

Paleoclimatology is the study of ancient climates, prior to the widespread availability of instrumental records. The National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) provides paleoclimatology data and information to understand natural climate variability and future climate change. The World Data Service for Paleoclimatology, which archives and distributes data contributed by scientists around the world, is also housed at NCEI.

New and Improved Updates

With over 10,000 available datasets derived from natural sources—such as tree rings, ice cores, corals, and ocean and lake sediments—it’s easy to feel overwhelmed while searching. The new web service aims to make your search much easier. It integrates all of the current search capabilities, including a full-text search and data types (proxies and reconstructions), along with data publishers (NOAA, Neotoma, and Pangaea). Use of logical operators, such as “and”, “or”, and “not”, as part of the text-based capability is easy and greatly enhances the power of searches and the specificity of results.The advanced search feature allows refinement by data types, investigators, locations, keywords, and time periods. There is even an enhanced geospatial mapping representation on landing pages for each study. The newly improved web service API can also be found from the Paleo Data Search page.

There are multiple ways to search for relevant data. Either input a search term into the general search text box, select a data type from the menu, or narrow your selections in the advanced search feature. The search automatically builds an API for you based on your search criteria that you can then reuse in the future. After inputting your search criteria, the search results will populate with the relevant studies, providing an overview of the metadata that links to any additional data and information.

An upcoming feature that will be released soon is a reports page. This section of the site will host predefined searches that paleoclimatology scientists have found most useful in the past. You’ll be able to select one or several data types, such as ice cores or corals, from the list assembled by scientists, and the search will produce the most relevant and noteworthy studies related to that topic. The reports page allows you to search jointly by location and data type as well. You’ll also be able to search through every study related to a specific data type, with user-friendly columns that allow you to easily sort through the studies.

Using the new web service can help you find information on topics such as:

  • Finding common years of great drought or wetness across specific regions
  • Coral records related to El Niño occurrences
  • Air temperature reconstructions

What is Paleoclimatology and Climate Reconstruction?

Similar to the way archeologists study fossils and other physical clues to gain insight into the prehistoric past, paleoclimatologists study several different types of environmental evidence to understand what the Earth’s past climate was like and why.

While searching for paleoclimatology data on the new web service, you may see an option to limit your search result to climate reconstructions. These are reconstructions of past climate conditions that are derived from paleoclimatology proxy data. Included in the paleoclimatology datasets are reconstructions of past temperature, drought, precipitation, vegetation, streamflow, sea surface temperature, and other climatic or climate-dependent conditions.

Visit the Paleoclimatology Data page to learn more about and access all of the historical data NCEI stewards.